| Payton North
EAST LONGMEADOW – Heartsong Yoga at 264 North Main St. in East Longmeadow is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, and celebrating how far the practice of yoga has come over the years.
Owner of Heartsong, Sheila Wadden Magalhaes, explained that when her business was established in 1993, no one really knew what yoga was.
“Yoga? Yoda? Yogurt? What’s that? Are you crazy?” She joked, “Maybe.”
Magalhaes grew up on the South Shore of Boston in Scituate, MA until her father gained a position with the Friendly’s Corporation. The family uprooted their lives to East Longmeadow when Magalhaes was in second grade, and hasn’t looked back since.
“I consider myself to be a home town girl, ELHS class of ’78, and I grew up, married, and raised my own family here in town,” Magalhaes said.
Magalhaes attended Springfield Technical Community College and studied graphic design. From there, she worked in the silk screen-printing field for 11 years. Magalhaes decided to leave the job when she and her husband, Tony, began starting a family.
Over the course of the years Magalhaes was a continuing education student in night school at Westfield State University, then College, where she studied marketing and business.
“That continuing education stopped and started a few times as I had our children. These were very difficult years with two high risk pregnancies, each with months of bed rest, fear and anxiety,” Magalhaes shared. “Both babies were preemies and each spent a significant time in the hospital before coming home. Now ages 30 and 28, our son and daughter are healthy, happy and strong. But it was the stress and trauma of those early days that brought me to my first yoga class where I fell in love with yoga and the benefits of relaxation, stress reduction, physical balance and the practice of self care.”
In the spring of 1993 Magalhaes completed her first yoga teacher training at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox. At the same time, she graduated from Westfield State, and opened Heartsong Yoga in the autumn.
Since her opening in 1993, Magalhaes has received advance training in Kripalu Yoga, known as the “Yoga of Compassion” along with an advanced certification with The Hard and The Soft Yoga Institute, a vigorous and athletic-style of yoga and meditation in motion called Ashtanga Yoga.
Today, Magalhaes is a member of the faculty for The Hard and The Soft Yoga Institute, leading teacher-training programs at Heartsong and affiliated studios across New England. Additionally, she’s trained with Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans, Yoga Ed. Tools for Teachers, and is certified as a Yoga Therapist with the International Yoga Therapist Association.
“When I opened Heartsong, yoga was thought to be reserved for the earthy crunchy hippie types. But as a self-proclaimed “redheaded, Irish–Catholic suburban yogi mom,” I was inspired by the yoga practices that personally helped me to find contentment, happiness and calm in the midst of a busy and challenging life, and I was simply determined to share it with others,” she said. “It was a great way for me to find work and family balance, as I was doing work that I loved, and building my practice around my family’s schedule.”
When Magalhaes first opened she had a partner who she shared the responsibilities with. Within three years the two dissolved the partnership and Magalhaes decided to take the risk and continue with Heartsong on her own, with the support of her husband Tony and a small group of teachers who she had met along the way.
Tony works as Heartsong Yoga’s co–director. The two have been living in their home in East Longmeadow, which is a short walk to Heartsong, for almost 35 years.
Magalhaes teaches six classes a week, sees private clients, and two weekends each month host’s teacher training programs. She hosts workshops and specialty classes as well as corporate classes and events. Her mother, Beth Wadden, teaches three classes a week for the group. Additionally, Magalhaes has a team of teachers and support staff who teach classes, which she affectionately refers to as “Team Heartsong.”
“There are currently 40 classes a week to choose from on our schedule. It takes our team of close to 20 teachers who teach a variety of classes of all levels, each bringing their wisdom, passion, training and unique voice to the studio,” she shared. “They teach Chair Yoga, Family Yoga, Teen and Tween Yoga, Beginner and Gentle Yoga, Moderate and vigorous Yoga, Hot and Flow Yoga, Laughter Yoga and Meditation and Mindful Movement.”
Magalhaes’ favorite part about running her own business is the sense of belonging to the community, and how over the years, her students have transitioned from students to family.
“We have all experienced life’s passages, birth, death, loss, suffering, joy, celebrations, life’s roller coaster, and we navigate it together,” she reflected. “We’ve learned to celebrate impermanence knowing that all things rise up, and all things fall away.”
Now that it’s been 25 years in business and she has a chance to look back, Magalhaes doesn’t have any regrets with how Heartsong has evolved.
“It [the business] was always just the right size at just the right time for my family and our life. If I could tell myself anything from today, to my younger self, it would be, ‘trust more, worry less’.”
She closed, “As the awareness and popularity of yoga continues to grow, what I feel is unique to Heartsong is the way that we promote both the physical benefits of the practice as well as the philosophical wisdom of Classical Yoga, teaching yoga not just as exercise but with a deep and heartfelt understanding that all beings are interconnected. I like to say, “more yoga, more love” as peace and compassion is something we desperately need in this day and age.”
To contact Heartsong Yoga, call 525–0720 or email at email@example.com.